Edinburgh - "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was resounding
around an otherwise muted Murrayfield when England drove Scotland back in the
scrum for a penalty, one final indignity for the beaten boys in blue.
There was still time for England No. 8 Billy Vunipola to make
another punishing carry through the heart of the Scottish defence.
No wonder Eddie Jones wore a smile of deep satisfaction high up in
Jones made restoring England's traditional strength up front one
of his early priorities after replacing Stuart Lancaster as coach following the
team's dismal Rugby World Cup campaign last year. England's forward play had
become too passive, too nice, under Lancaster and it had to change.
It's very early days, but there were signs in the 15-9 win over
Scotland on Saturday that things will be different up front in the Jones era,
despite the personnel being largely the same.
The English had a 93 percent success rate in the lineout. They won
11 of 12 scrums, becoming increasingly dominant in this department after a
tough start. They won seven turnovers, and their defence was hardly penetrated.
It was a dull game and there were plenty of errors, but England's
management of the basics of rugby pleased Jones.
"I said we had to come up here and do the basics right,"
Jones said. "The set-piece and the defence, which we said we wanted to go
into the game as a strong part of our game — it came through for us."
Jones singled out Vunipola for special praise after the No. 8 had
19 carries and made 51 meters as part of a prodigious work rate. Jones has read
lots in the media about Vunipola supposedly being too slow for a No. 8, but
begs to differ after this performance.
"I thought he was outstanding, carrying, his defence work —
he can be the best No. 8 in the world, I've got no doubt about that,"
Jones said. "He's a big guy with footwork. He's a great reader of the
game, he knows when to attack off No. 9 and we're trying to get him to learn to
attack off No. 10.
"He's still a young guy, he's 22. Imagine when he does get a
credit rating how good he'll be."
Jones said there was work to do at the breakdown — a problem area
under Lancaster, too — and said flair out wide will come, in conditions more
suited to running rugby. But the Australian, who sang "God Save The
Queen" loud and proud before kick-off, was satisfied after his first taste
of Six Nations rugby.
"We got off the bus (before the game) and the Scottish fans
were going crazy," Jones recounted. "There was one little England
supporter with his beanie on. For five minutes, he yelled out, 'Come on
England, come on England.'
"He was getting drowned out but he kept going. It was a bit
like the team today. We kept plugging away and we won the game easily."